The Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System, or V.A.T.S., is a queuing system for Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas and Fallout 4, inspired partly by the ability to shoot specific parts in the turn-based combat system of Fallout and Fallout 2. It is also used for a cinematic combat experience.
While using V.A.T.S., the otherwise real-time combat is paused. Various actions cost Action Points, and the user can target specific body areas for attacks, inflicting specific injuries.
When using V.A.T.S. against a humanoid enemy, seven different areas can be targeted: the head, torso, left arm, right arm, currently held weapon, left leg, and right leg. However, there may be other points available when facing off non-humanoid creatures (e.g. robot combat inhibitors, ant antennae).
When targeting a part, the screen displays a percentage of how likely the attack will hit the targeted area based on distance from the target, visibility of the targeted body part, and combat skill. The percentage of a hit cannot be any higher than 95%, so there is a small 5% chance to actually miss. A higher percentage does not equate to more damage done; for example, an 95% hit to the head will not do more damage than a 80% hit to the head. The readout also displays the overall condition of the body parts on the target. The bar will be empty when the limb has been crippled.
V.A.T.S. also displays a health meter indicating the target's overall health, as well as an indicator showing the amount of damage a V.A.T.S. attack round using the character's current weapon will inflict. Note that the indicator shows the weapon's maximum non-critical potential damage that the weapon would do if the character's relevant combat skill (e.g. Small Guns) were at 100. If the character's combat skill is less than 100, they will do less real damage with each attack than what the V.A.T.S. indicator shows. On the other hand, achieving a critical hit (such as a Sneak Attack Critical) can potentially produce more real damage than the indicator shows.
There is a 15% boost in the chance for a critical hit in V.A.T.S. mode, but weapons degrade at 4 times the regular rate.
Unlike previous Fallout games, it is not possible to target the eyes or groin, nor target any individual body parts in melee and unarmed combat. However, one can still strike specific limbs without aiming for them, and still cripple and dismember enemies. Also, unlike in the previous games, children cannot be targeted.
Although body part damage can be achieved through manual aiming, V.A.T.S. allows more effective targeting of particular body parts. The effects of crippling specific body parts are listed below.
- Crippling the head will reduce overall accuracy and Perception (-4) of the target. If inflicted upon the player character, the screen will intermittently get fuzzy and a ring will be heard through the speakers, loosely simulating the effects of a concussion.
- Crippling the torso will result in the target flinching far more often from shots than normal. This can also affect the player character, throwing off aim and interrupting attacks (even in V.A.T.S.).
- Crippling an arm will drastically reduce accuracy and may disarm the target if a weapon is held in the attached hand. This is particularly evident when using a scoped weapon, such as a sniper rifle. The weapon itself is not destroyed, and the target can pick it up again or use another weapon from their inventory.
- A crippled right arm also reduces base melee damage done by 10% if wielding a one-handed weapon. If wielding a two-handed weapon (or unarmed), one crippled arm reduces base damage done by 5%, two crippled arms reduce base damage done by 10%.
- Crippling a leg will result in impaired mobility. Creatures who rely on leaping attacks (e.g. deathclaws) will no longer be able to use them.
- Crippling both of the player character's legs disables special melee and unarmed moves that are executed outside of V.A.T.S., such as Mauler or Ranger Takedown.
- Crippling the held weapon will ruin it and make it unusable, and/or send it flying out of the target's hand. Although the condition is zero and it cannot be used, it can still be collected and repaired, or used for repairs. The player character's weapon may be damaged by enemy fire as well. If the weapon's Condition depletes, it will be unequipped as opposed to flying out of the hands. If it is an explosive ordnance (like a frag grenade), it will explode, dealing its damage to the target holding it (and any others nearby). Grenades can be targeted by V.A.T.S. while in the air after being thrown as well. If successfully hit on the fly, they will explode prematurely.
- Some enemies have alternate targets. Robots, insects, turrets, and certain others have special targetable parts that when crippled will push them into a frenzied state where they stop discerning between friend and foe and attack indiscriminately.
Crippling any body part will result in the target momentarily pausing to clutch the now crippled body part or reel from the injury.
When using explosive and melee weapons specific body parts cannot be targeted while in V.A.T.S. The enemy is simply targeted as a whole.
- V.A.T.S. is first introduced to the player character on their 10th birthday in Vault 101 upon receiving a BB gun.
- V.A.T.S. can be used to reveal enemies that normally would not be seen (like Crimson Dragoon or enemies that are far away) by clicking the V.A.T.S. button rapidly (or for consoles, simply holding down the V.A.T.S. button) (also called V.A.T.S. scanning). If there is a target nearby, V.A.T.S. mode will be entered with the enemy targeted, pointing out their location. Doing this when going around corners in buildings and tunnels can give an edge against ambushing enemies as well. Occasionally in large open spaces the opposite will happen: seeing a target but it will be too far away to target with V.A.T.S.
- Although invisible enemies can be targeted in V.A.T.S., no other actions can be taken, because all hit percentages for enemy body parts will remain at 0%, regardless of their proximity to the character.
- The player character receives only 10% of normal damage in V.A.T.S.; however, some weapons are still strong enough to instantly kill, such as the Fat Man, and especially the Experimental MIRV.
- V.A.T.S. is very useful for melee and unarmed sneak attacks, as it seems to teleport the character to melee/unarmed range, whereas in free-aim it would be impossible to reach the target. It can also teleport characters up on to a ledge if V.A.T.S. is started mid jump for an attack. Unless there is a 0% chance to hit, of course.
- Also, interestingly, despite the entire body being highlighted in V.A.T.S. with a melee or unarmed weapon, the strike will actually hit the head when standing (noticeable because a melee kill from V.A.T.S. while standing will nearly always result in a decapitation) or the arm when sneaking.
- The character cannot move away or dodge while in V.A.T.S.
- Automatic weapons (assault rifles etc.) always shoot bursts of ammo in V.A.T.S.
- Even if a target dies while reloading, the burst will still finish.
- V.A.T.S. only slows time; it does not halt it completely. Therefore, targeted enemies may be able to move behind cover before getting to fire all queued shots. Characters allied to the player character can also move during a V.A.T.S. sequence, which might cause friendly-fire incidents with ranged weapons in close-quarters combat.
- Once a V.A.T.S. sequence has been accepted, it cannot be canceled while the actions are being carried out, unless the target dies or is destroyed during the sequence.
- Mines cannot be used in V.A.T.S.; it will show a 0% chance to hit, no matter the proximity to the target.
- If a character is out of AP and unable to attack using V.A.T.S., one can still take advantage of it during battle. Simply activate V.A.T.S., select the target, then press and hold the left trigger (or whatever button was mapped for iron sights). Exit V.A.T.S. while still holding the trigger and the iron sight will be aimed directly at the intended target. This works best for enemies that charge directly at the combatant, like melee-oriented enemies such as deathclaws, since a good number of shots can be squeezed off without having to adjust one's aim. This can be used to one's own advantage at great range with very accurate weapons such as the Lincoln Repeater, where a head shot is almost guaranteed even when the probability of hitting in V.A.T.S. is minuscule.
- Using shotguns in V.A.T.S. can sometimes do minimal damage. Shotguns' damage uses a Spread Radius and thus, a certain amount of damage for each single part of the spread, for example: 8x6 - each part of the spread does 8 damage, but the damage is multiplied by the 6 parts of the spread, in V.A.T.S., sometimes it will cancel the spread and only do the base damage - in comparison to the example above, instead of doing 8x6 worth of damage, it will only do 8 points of damage, making a shotgun in V.A.T.S. a gamble.
- V.A.T.S. can be used to compensate for low skill with scoped weapons by selecting the limb to target and then instantly zooming out and firing.
Fallout: New VegasEdit
The Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System returns to Fallout: New Vegas allowing the player to freeze combat and specifically target six different limbs at the cost of Action Points. It is mostly unchanged in principle from Fallout 3, although arguably weaker.
- Every melee weapon can execute a special attack, which, however, requires having a Melee Weapons skill of at least 50.
- Unarmed weapons gain Uppercut and Stomp special attacks at skill levels 50, and Cross at skill level 75. These attacks have an AP cost of 20 regardless of the weapon used.
- Base melee/unarmed damage (except thrown melee weapons) dealt by the weapon is automatically doubled.
- You take 75% damage in V.A.T.S. instead of 10%. Dying in V.A.T.S. is a very real possibility.
- The V.A.T.S. critical chance bonus is 6% instead of 15%.
- V.A.T.S. no longer inflicts additional weapon's durability damage on use.
- Enemies are less aggressively slowed down; while all enemies move slower in V.A.T.S., those not actively targeted are not slowed nearly as dramatically.
While largely similar in Fallout 4, V.A.T.S. went through some changes. Instead of freezing time as in previous games, V.A.T.S. instead significantly slows time.
Actions queued in V.A.T.S. can now be cancelled (on the PC, the default key is [Tab]) before they are taken.
As opposed to its predecessors, thrown explosives like the Fragmentation grenade cannot be directly used in V.A.T.S. since grenades are not being equipped as primary weapons anymore. A trick to use grenades in V.A.T.S. is to throw them outside of V.A.T.S (you can use the Demolition Expert perk at rank 3 to get the throwing arc for precision attacks), then enter V.A.T.S. and shoot the grenade by targeting it in its flightpath. Shooting a grenade during flight in V.A.T.S. with the perk Demolition Expert at rank 4 will double the grenade damage on detonation.
Critical hits are no longer randomized; instead, attacks in V.A.T.S. charge up a critical hit bar, the rate of which is in part influenced by Luck. Once full, a player can choose which of their shots will be upgraded to a critical; a shot upgraded to critical is also guaranteed to hit, regardless of the actual V.A.T.S. percentage hit chance. Once used, the critical hit drains the bar and it must be recharged before another critical hit can be made.
- There's a dramatic difference in the amount of V.A.T.S. points used per shot between various types of aiming devices attached to the same weapon. Scopes increase the amount of points consumed while reflex sights decrease.
Behind the scenesEdit
Artist Grant Struthers prototyped the V.A.T.S. camera system by filming his Incredibles action figures fighting.
- pc xbox360 ps3 In rare occasions, the black-and-white effect of V.A.T.S. will carry over to the normal game, rendering everything except the HUD to a permanent grayscale filter. [verified]
- pc xbox360 If the player falls from a great height, he/she can pull out a melee weapon and target someone below. The effect of being teleported into range loses all velocity from the fall, and negates the damage. This is most easily seen at Tenpenny Tower, from one of the balconies onto citizens below. [verified]
- pc xbox360 Firing weapons that require two shells, such as the Double-barrel shotgun, can lead to a bug in which the character does not actually fire a shot in V.A.T.S. It will just result in a drawn out cinematic view of the player just aiming at his/her target. This is due to only having an odd number of shotgun shells in the players inventory resulting in the the last shot in V.A.T.S. not firing because the gun requires two shells to fire and only one is left in the players inventory. [verified]
- pc xbox360 ps3 Occasionally, the game will freeze during a V.A.T.S. attack. On consoles, this will cause the screen to become stuck and the console will need to be reset, on PC the game will automatically close (sometimes after a short period of time). There is no fix, so it is emphasized that players save often to avoid this becoming a problem.[verified]
Fallout: New VegasEdit
- pc xbox360 ps3 On occasion, a target in V.A.T.S. will show 0% to hit or not show any percentages to hit at all, despite being perfectly valid (which can be verified by selecting attacks, which ordinarily should not be possible). Leaving and re-entering VATS or switching targets can help fix this. [verified]
- ps3 xbox360 Upon tapping the V.A.T.S. button, the player may only hear a click and no change in gameplay, as VATS does not activate. This problem can last for up to several minutes (easily enough to hinder any player reliant on the V.A.T.S. system), at which point VATS once again becomes available. This issue appears to be a problem with the L2 & R2 button mapping. Remapping V.A.T.S. to a different button can resolve the issue. If this doesn't work, you can turn off the controller and turn it on again or even quit the game and get back in. [verified]
- pc V.A.T.S. targeting is bugged for certain guns - most lever action rifles and a few pistols: it consistently shoots high, making headshots improbable or impossible. Consistently replicable by starting a new game, adding a brush gun (id: 00121148) and .45-70 ammo (id: 0013e43e), forcing Guns to 100, and shooting at Easy Pete's head from the nearby road. Bullet impacts will appear on the windowpane behind him - and, shot after shot, will consistently be high. Modifying the gun to have perfect accuracy and/or setting fVATSSpreadMult to 0.01 will reveal that the V.A.T.S. point of aim is roughly a foot high. No known fix yet. This bug also seems to occur with the Hunting Revolver. [verified]
- pc A reloading glitch can rarely occur where the player is granted a 100% boost in reload speed after a target is killed in V.A.T.S. and the cinematic death animation plays simultaneously as the player is reloading (namely the single shotgun) the effect lasts until the player enters another cell, switches weapons, dies, or reloads a previous save. [verified]
- pc ps3 xbox360 When using Melee/Unarmed, it is possible to get stuck in a wall, You will have to reload a previous save, use fast travel, or use a console command. [verified]
- xbox360 By tapping the V.A.T.S. button (regardless of whether an enemy is around), the game freezes to the point in which a manual restart is necessary. Restarting (from the same save point) has not fixed the glitch, but loading an earlier save might. Try deleting system cache. [verified]
- pc ps3 xbox360 After choosing where you want to attack at your enemy and pressing the button to attack them, your character may do nothing and stay still during the slow-motion for an unconfirmed amount of time. On most occasions you will either die or lose a large portion of your health. It is largely related to attacking in V.A.T.S. while you were reloading, so make sure ALL reloading animations and sounds are totally complete before you attempt a V.A.T.S. attack. This can also occur with the mysterious stranger if his target is killed prematurely by you, or another NPC. He will not fire his 6 rounds and V.A.T.S. will not end until 15 seconds or more. [verified]
- pc On very rare occasions, your character may not fire after queuing up the attacks, forcing you to reload a previous save. [verified]
- pc ps3 xbox360 At close to medium range, V.A.T.S. may simply refuse to register attacks but will go into cinematic view. The Player Character will simply stand still while being attacked. Note: The enemies will go back to normal speed which means if you are in a difficult fight, you just might die. After several seconds however, the screen may revert to normal view. This may happen repeatedly on PS3 while using the Brush gun. [verified]
- xbox360 After entering V.A.T.S., and skipping the kill camera, your game may be in slow motion for about ten seconds. This won't prove any difficulties, everything will be in slow motion. This may also occur if you have the cinematic kills on, and usually occurs around areas with cliffs, apparently. [verified]
- xbox360 While attacking in V.A.T.S., only the target and player will be in slow motion. Any other enemies in the area will move and attack at normal speed, making you a prime target for the duration of your attack. [verified]
- ps3 Sometimes the camera may zoom on the enemy and all your shots may fire in quick succession as if you're using an automatic weapon, but no shots will register on the target, and will cause zero damage. [verified]
- xbox360 When attacking an enemy in/under water with a melee weapon, if you're in close range, the game will most likely freeze and you will have to load an earlier save. [verified]
- xbox360 Rarely, after exiting V.A.T.S., if "true iron sights" is turned on, the player's default weapon position may be locked in iron sights. This can easily be fixed by zooming in. [verified]
- pc When using the recharger pistol, recharger rifle or MF Hyperbreeder Alpha in VATS, if the number of attacks exceeds the amount of ammunition in the rifle's magazine, it will fully recharge the rifle minus every attack selected after the recharge.[verified]
- pc When targeting an enemy in VATS, if they are attacking the player in close quarters while the player is sneaking, their body will block VATS shots on their head, despite it being closer [verification overdue]
- pc If the player character moves horizontally while in VATS (like when standing on a moving platform), the camera will remain in the same location despite the character moving. Camera will return to the player when they exit VATS.[verification overdue]
- xboxone VATS attacks will often be skipped over when used against any variant of radscorpion. [verification overdue]